How To Know Which Gas Water Heater Problems May Be Repairable and Which Problems Require Replacement?

Al’s Plumbing performs both repairs and replacements of gas (& electric) water heaters.  So how do you know if it can be repaired, or has to be replaced?  Generally, if yours is leaking from the bottom it will require replacement, because leaks from the bottom typically mean the water-tank has cracked or corroded through.



Here Are Some Other Places A Water Heater May Be Leaking — These Are Typically Repairable:

  • Water-Inlet & Water-Outlet pipe leaks (the pipes connecting the water heater to the home).  A leak here may require no more than the tightening of a loose connection.
  • Pressure-Relief Valve  This valve is located on the side of the tank with a pipe running downward to the floor.  If water is coming from the pipe, this means that either 1. The valve is defective or 2. It’s working properly and excess tank pressure is forcing it to open. A leak from this location is usually fixable, but is also cause for concern if tank-pressure is causing it to open.
  • Heater Drain Valve: Check the drain valve located near the bottom of the tank. Make sure that it closes (and is closed) completely. A leak from this location is not a serious problem and can be fixed.


The first 4 items to check;

  • Is the pilot-light working?
  • Has the gas been turned off to the water heater?
  • Has the gas control valve (at the top of control valve) been turned to “off” or “pilot”?
  • Has the thermostat (round knob on front) been turned very low or to “vacation”?

There Are 3 Replaceable Parts Which Can Cause It To Stop Heating.

  • Faulty gas pilot light
  • Faulty gas thermocouple  — You can see this within the pilot light flame.  If the flame goes out or thermocouple fails, it will shut the gas off for safety.
  • Faulty gas pilot control valve

Since these parts control the flow of gas, Al’s makes no suggestions on repairs other than call a licensed plumber. Improper repair can result in gas leaking into your home and can result in an explosion.


As mentioned earlier, leaking from the bottom means the water-tank has cracked or corroded through.  This happens to many water heaters over the years.  Lifespan is affected by neglected annual maintenance which allows sludge to build up in the water-tank.

Proper  Water Heater Maintenance

Proper maintenance (from when the tank is new) includes annual flushing of the tank.  NOTE:  This must begin when the tank is 1 year old.  Performing a flush for the first time for a tank which is more than a year old can cause it to start leaking.



Sludge build-up at the bottom of the tank results from minerals, or dirt & debris in the water.  All of this settles at the bottom of the water-tank.  This build-up forces the heater to run longer, putting additional stress on the water tank.  The longer the burner is on, the more expansion occurs in the steel water tank. When the burner turns off, the tank starts to contract as it cools.  This expanding and contracting often eventually causes the steel tank to crack.

One sign of sediment buildup is a popping or rumbling sound.  That’s the sound of steam bubbles percolating up through the build-up.  Sediment creates hot spots that can damage the tank and cause premature failure. Annual flushing offers rewards in the form of lower energy bills plus extended lifespan.  Nearly all sludge build-up can be prevented with annual flushing (starting when it’s 1 year old).

Al’s Plumbing repairs and replaces gas (& electric) water heaters.   We install only Rheem Professional Grade water heaters.  Professional Grade tanks have a thicker glass lining.  Because it’s thicker, the liner is baked longer.  These two things cause the water-tank glass liner to last longer, which increases lifespan.

Contact Al’s Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning for all your plumbing and HVAC needs.  We provide service by appointment plus 24/7 Emergency Service.  Al’s employs only  NATE Certified HVAC Technicians and TX Licensed Plumbers.